Day 8, Oct 6: Santo Domingo to San Juan de Ortega, 29mi

My friend Christy Graham, who I have mentioned before because she and her husband Cary walked the Camino two springs ago, sent me this quote in an email yesterday:

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives”  -Henry David Thoreau

I thought about this quote all day today, it is extremely helpul to me.  I am a “let’s get things done” person, and sometimes my expectations of accomplishment are unrealistic.  Be it in my work, in my personal life, or simply about “accomplishing” a thought process or coming to a decision, I want things to happen quickly and then move on.  I am really working to not have this as my default way of operating; it is not realistic at times, nor does it allow for the time and space needed to really process things of importance.  This Camino is helping me see that AND practice it.  That quote is perfect for me right now (thank you Christy!).

Today started out great, having slept very well in my hotel room, and getting to indulge in a large buffet breakfast.  I met a girl named Anita from Australia at breakfast, and invited her to sit with me.  After spending the whole previous evening alone, it was nice to have some company and chat in English.  I love swapping stories and hearing about why people are here, how long they’ve been walking, and all those details.  Anita had her luggage lost and had to spend 6 days (!!!) in a hotel in France, waiting for it to arrive.  She ended up buying new clothes and then having to deal with what to do with them or the older ones when her bags finally did arrive.  So her Camino started off kind of tough.  She had a great attitude, and chalked it up to part of her experience.  She shared with me a time that she cried in a chapel, feeling the weight of the challenge of walking so many miles and all that led up to her getting there.  I was impressed, and really enjoyed our conversation.  I shared some of my plastic baggies with her so that we could both sneak a couple croissants into our packpacks as we left the huge, glorious buffet :)

It was a very long walk-day because it was sunny and good temperatures, I was feeling good after my short day to Santo Domingo, and because I want to walk less tomorrow to get to Burgos which is a big city that I want to have time to look around.

It was very windy for much of the day.  Great temperatures, and no rain, but super-windy, which tries your mental patience!  I met up with a couple English-speaking pilgrims that I had met in Santo Domingo (one from US, one from Germany) and we kept each other company for a few hours.  After lunch, we said our goodbyes and I took off at a faster pace.

I walked the last 2.5 hours completely alone, and felt a little bit nervous.  I prayed a lot, and kept my wits aboout me – and my whistle and tiny knife handy, in case – but there was absolutely nothing that presented a problem.  The wind died down around 4pm, and I arrived at my destination at 6:30.  I was exhausted, but feeling grateful for my safety and my health, and the 29 miles I accopmlished today.  Yes, I know, I am working on “less expectations”.  I didnt expect this long of a day; what is so fun walking solo is to be flexible with however I’m feeling and how far or short I decide to go.

The albergue in San Juan was a converted church, as many of these are.  It was one of the more basic that I have been in, and the dinner left much to be desired…but I was so tired and hungry it really didn’t matter and I ate it all and was grateful for it.  It was chilly and breezy, as we were at a higher altitude (1000km), so I got ready for bed early, around 9pm, bundled up and laid down.  It’s really a nice feeling to be so grateful for the simple things like a warm sleeping bag, a mattress/bed, and others around (who I don’t even know), to provide a feeling of community and safety.  When do I even think about, let alone Thank God for, these things in my daily life?  Its a blessing to pare life down to the basics at times.  Though there was a LOT of snoring, I slept like  rock for most of the night.  This was the first time I took a Tylenol PM to make sure I could sleep well, plus I think it helped some of my body aches after such a long walk.  I also used my earplugs, ,which are a simple way to mostly cut down on noise.  They don’t drown out all the snoring, though!

Leaving the Parador after a large buffet breakfast - mmm!  It was a very windy day.

Leaving the Parador after a large buffet breakfast – mmm! It was a very windy day.

Kind of an awkward stance, but had another Pilgrim snap my photo in front of this pretty backdrop
Kind of an awkward stance, but had another Pilgrim snap my photo in front of this pretty backdrop

These sunflower fields must have been glorious when they were all in bloom.  I passed several fields today.  I think there is beauty in this stage of their life-span as well.

These sunflower fields must have been glorious when they were all in bloom. I passed several fields today. I think there is beauty in this stage of their life-span as well.

I loved this scene; a beautiful house-front that I passed while walking through a very small town.  There is a tiny dog in front, too!

I loved this scene; a beautiful house-front that I passed while walking through a very small town. There is a tiny dog in front, too!

Another spot of beauty that caught my eye today.  I was suprised this didn't turn out blurry, as the wind was whipping the bushes around!

Another spot of beauty that caught my eye today. I was suprised this didn’t turn out blurry, as the wind was whipping the bushes around!

 

A cathedral I passed today; I loved the rock backdrop.  Notice the huge bird nests on top of the bell tower.  I am not sure what type of bird these belong to.

A cathedral I passed today; I loved the rock backdrop. Notice the huge bird nests on top of the bell tower. I was told the nests are made by storks.

 

This was Albergue San Juan, a "Parish" albergue, converted from a 16th century church. For dinner's first course, they serve a traditional bread and garlic soup called Sopa de Ajo, initiated by a former parish priest Jose Maria. (It was probably the best part of the meal tonight hehe)

This was Albergue San Juan, a “Parish” albergue, converted from a 16th century church. For dinner’s first course, they serve a traditional bread and garlic soup called Sopa de Ajo, initiated by a former parish priest Jose Maria. (It was probably the best part of the meal tonight hehe)

 

2 Responses to “Day 8, Oct 6: Santo Domingo to San Juan de Ortega, 29mi”

  1. Jack Deeter says:

    Hi Whitney,
    Shirley and I are enjoying your blog greatly, and will continue to follow your adventure.
    I am sympathetic to the high altitude chill you experienced @1000km on day 8. I calculate that to be twice as high as Russia’s Mir space station.
    I’m trying to be funny, not critical.
    Best wishes, Jack

    • admin says:

      HaHa, Jack, I am laughing! 1000km is nothing, I know! But it was high enough to be foggy and chilly that morning :) Thank you for reading my blog and for your support! I am having an amazing time. -Whitney

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